February 11, 2009
This Valentine's Day, become a fan of the NYC Condom -- on Facebook. By visiting the new page, New Yorkers send e-condoms to their friends, spread the word about safe sex and link to information on where to find condoms. The Health Department will also host a virtual event on Facebook, where New Yorkers can say they will use a condom and invite their friends to do the same.
The new page is the latest phase in a campaign that started in 2007, when New York City launched the nation's first branded city condom. Monthly distribution at clinics, clubs, salons and other venues has since doubled, reaching more than 3 million condoms per month. Together, the Health Department and its numerous community partners have distributed some 70 million NYC Condoms since the launch.
Last year industrial designer Yves Behar, founder of the San Francisco-based fuseproject firm, gave the condom a fresh look with a new wrapper and a sleek dispenser, which won an International Design Excellence Award from Business Week and the Industrial Designers Society of America. It also won a 2008 Spark Award.
"By using Facebook, we can help millions of people spread the word about condoms," said Dr. Monica Sweeney, the Health Department's assistant commissioner for HIV prevention and control. "Condoms protect against contracting HIV and other STDs when used correctly and consistently. They also prevent unintended pregnancy. We encourage New Yorkers to stay safe on Valentine's Day -- and everyday -- by using condoms."
Facebook has an even stronger following in New York City than in the country as a whole, according to usage surveys. And STD information is one of the city's top 10 Internet search topics.
Despite recent gains in condom awareness, HIV and other STDs are prevalent in New York City. Approximately 14 New Yorkers are newly infected with HIV every day, while 30 New Yorkers contract gonorrhea and 160 contract Chlamydia. The Health Department promotes testing and treatment to control these infections, but partner reduction and consistent condom use are the surest ways to reduce the risk.
Condoms should always be stored at room temperature, and latex condoms should be protected from prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures, moisture, direct sunlight and fluorescent light. Don't carry condoms in your wallet or car for too long -- this can make them break easily -- and always check expiration dates before using them.
New Yorkers can visit www.nyc.gov/condoms to find establishments that offer free NYC condoms every day.